The frustrating thing is that the points where things go off the rails are easily pinpointed and nine times out of ten could have been prevented if people had been honest with each other or had at least communicated. Not very much goes right for the characters. I could not put this book down! He comforts himself with the certainty that his stellar academic record and brains will bring him the adulation that has evaded him in high school. Even though he heals, he still hurts. I just had that feeling that I occasionally get when a book just fits right.
The Heart Does Not Grow Back is an exciting, thoroughly enjoyable ride, hitting the perfect spot of strange and bittersweet. Then the subject matter becomes much less pleasant as the story veers off on an unexpected tack. Dale, it seems, has the power to regenerate his body parts, like a starfish - chop off a finger, grow a new one. You know that feeling you get when you watch an incredibly awesome movie for the first time? However, I genuinely cared about what happened to him. Even women with the potential for strength such as the agent are objectified; Mack ends up screwing her and Dale tells her to leave her glasses off during sex because she has pretty eyes. Before that, Dale was a lonely, ignored boy. Later in high school, when Dale is about to graduate, when it seems he may finally win the girl of his dreams, those dreams are shattered.
To be quite honest, maybe the most impressive thing was copy editing. This story and these characters have stuck with me, and so has Fred Venturini. As Dale is the protagonist, we get to know him in particular. He lusts after girls, but can't manage the courage to do anything about it. The more I think about this book, the more I dislike it, the more I'm pretty bummed that I spent actual money on this, and the more I realize that I need to do that thing where I only spend money on new authors who are not white men. Being the plot-conscious individual that I am, I thought there would be a period of decadence and lust. The most rewarding part for me is the reaction of an audience.
Each character needs to be saved from something, but not all of them want to be saved. I very much admire what he has accomplished. It is not only the realistic treatment of the opening section, it is the emotionally honest creation of the characters. Fred Venturini did an amazing job grabbing the reader right fro Awesome. You can hate me too for loving this book, I don't care! When you fondle a gun, it starts out cool and warms up, getting friendly in your hands.
It was the fact that no one realised that Dale was living alone as a minor after his mother died. Dale later wakes up and discovers that his fingers have grown back. Sadly, I This book got a lot of four and five star reviews, so maybe I missed the point, but I'm going to be quite the outlier here. Initially, I picked up this novel because the premise sounded original. The ending is what really pulls it all together, resolving the conflicts and all the relationships while offering a glimmer of hope and a reason to be optimistic. I thought our loveable woe-is-me protagonist would have his heyday of indulgence, whether that would be booze or drugs or pussy or whatever. There is kindness in such an act, of course.
Both Dale and Mack want love and connection but run from it and objectify the female characters. Was it worth the read, though? In a horrific act of violence, Mack's possible athletic future is ruined, the girl Dale has fallen for is killed, and Dale is horribly wounded, except that his wounds inexplicably cure themselves. This book does not give a shit about women who aren't fuckable, dying, or both. Then the story got kind of weird and disturbing and I just couldn't read anymore. And then the twist comes in Chapter 8. I kept waiting for the gore to be actually gory not really , or for the regeneration to provide a device for a deep and satisfying exploration of Man Pain, etc.
Ultimately it is worth the read for its strengths even if you end up giving it a less than favorable review overall. It's true what the saying is about not appreciating what we have until it's gone, and Dale's plight at the end served as a reminder that I need to be grateful. He evoked many different responses from me while I was reading this book. Original was around 73k words, and only around 33k of that remains, mostly verbatim. Despite winning the evolutionary lottery with his amazing regeneration powers, he falls into a downward spiral of depression and apathy, until one day a girl from his past walks back into his life and gives it some meaning again. She's manipulative and conniving, trying to hide under the pretense of being meek.
In other words, squeamish readers may want to stay away from this one. Overall, I liked this book. Dale Sampson can regenerate himself. He wants something in return, although I'm not sure he's entirely clear in his mind just what that is. He's haunted by a secret he thinks he can erase with a bold and risky plan to fix his disfigurement for good--a plan that may cost him far more than he ever imagined. He compares this with the way lower life forms, salamanders for example, can replace lost appendages. It wrapped the narrative together.
With The Heart Does Not Grow Back, Mr. He is also borderline obsessive about relationships that never even existed. It is a superpower that at first seems to make little difference in his depressing life. I kept waiting him to quit enabling their horrid behavior. Definitely a new author to watch. Hold one long enough and pretty soon, the urge to shoot something takes on a life of its own.
So fair warning, there is a very disturbing rape scene, as well as numerous acts of bullying that go way beyond your typical school yard variety. That's just one of many logical gaps, and probably not the most obvious. No startling, fresh insights; no reminder that the world is a wonderful place. I read several reviews of this book and the more I contemplated the novel, the more I suspected it was not for me. What difference can a great ending make. The writing is joyous, but the dark side of life. I would like to point out that this is an adult novel, 100%.